Postpartum Depression: How to Know if it's More than Baby Blues?25 July 2023 | After Your Baby is Born | By Laetitia B
Welcoming a child into the world is a wonderful but also life changing experience.
It may be filled with joy but also uncertainty, anxiety and worries. It’s natural to feel many different kinds of emotions but how can new parents tell if it’s more than baby blues? And how can they get help for postpartum depression in Germany?
Doula Laetitia Bricout will tell us about the signs to look for and the next steps if you think you may have postpartum depression.
Laetitia took a deep dive into the mental health impacts of parenthood with her first child. As she embraced a new career of Sophrology Therapist (a psycho/body method to balance emotions/mental and body wellbeing), she became aware of all the shifts happening with parenthood and committed to improve parents wellbeing, in birth and postpartum.
Born and raised in France, she now supports French and English speaking families in Berlin. As a mother of two and the wife of a Korean/New Zealander, she is also experienced in multicultural families and how it can influence parenthood.
She volunteers for awareness around Postpartum Depression (PPD) and Mental Health struggles in parenthood through Association Maman Blues.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge on postpartum depression with us, Laetitia!
How would you define baby blues versus postpartum depression?
Baby Blues is a temporary emotional and mental breakdown with mood swings and intense emotional lows and ups. Mostly hormonal, it starts a few days after giving birth. It then fades and disappears after around 3 weeks. According to a recent study, 50% to 70% of new mothers will have a Baby Blues phase.
Perinatal Depression can be pre- and post-partum and can also be diagnosed with the father.
It is defined as lasting more than 3 weeks and nothing seems to work to feel better. Sometimes it is not a constant sadness/unhappiness - there are some rays of sunshine and some moments to breathe, but overall you would feel mainly unhappy, anxious and tired for more than a month.
What are some of the warning signs that you may have postpartum depression? Are there any tests you can take?
Parents can experience:
Lack of motivation, interest, energy
Constant somatic pain (back pain for example)
Constant tiredness and anxiety
Being on automatic mode: doing chores, baby care but in a detached way
Alterations in sleep patterns and appetite
Parents feel emotionally detached from their baby
Parents can see their newborn as a threat
Crying often or being incapable of crying
Feeling guilty for everything, feeling useless and unhappy
You can take tests that will help identify the different signs but results will have to be checked by a professional for an accurate and proper diagnosis.
The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is today the most accurate and professional tool and has been used to create online tests, such as this Postpartum Depression Test from Mental Health America.
You need to be aware that online tests alone are not a diagnosis, and depression is a life threatening disease. You should share the results of the tests with a psychologist/psychiatrist but you can also reach out to your GP/midwife or OBGYN.
How many parents are affected by postpartum depression?
Between 10% and 20% of new mothers are affected, and between 5% and 10% of co-parents (according to a review on ante and postnatal depression in fathers in the Journal of Affective Disorders).
Although it is better known and recognized today, it can still be tricky for parents to be diagnosed, especially first time parents. Everything is new and although they feel like something is not right, they may believe it is their new normal.
It’s also important to mention that traumatic birth experiences (emergency c-sections, premature births, perinatal deaths, gynecologic violence…) or “lighter” mental health issues in postpartum could lead to post-partum depression if not addressed with proper care.
How and where can new parents get help for postpartum depression (especially international families)?
Postpartum depression is not the only mental disorder/disease that can emerge when becoming a parent. If this doesn’t feel right to you, the first step is to talk about it with your care providers, your partner, dedicated forums in your mother tongue such as:
English speaking : https://www.postpartum.net/
Spanish Speaking : https://www.postpartum.net/
French speaking Association Maman Blues https://www.maman-blues.fr/
And most importantly, if you feel like something is off and you need help, reach out to professionals until you feel heard and in the right hands.
It might take a few tries to find the right psychologist/psychiatrist or treatment but it is so important for your health to receive help.
Is treatment for postpartum depression covered by German health insurance?
If you are with public health insurance, medical treatment and therapy is covered from diagnosis.
It might be tricky but definitely possible to find a reimbursed therapist in your language. I find this article from It’s complicated quite insightful on the topic of finding a therapist covered by German health insurance.
How can doulas help families in these situations?
Doulas are emotional, mental and organizational helpers. They should be able to encourage parents to express their feelings, create a safe and non judgmental space to talk about mental health around birth. They also help parents get some rest or a proper meal.
If they are trained on the subject they can also prevent, inform and help families with mental health concerns by researching/providing what they need (professional contacts, organizational help, time off) to overcome the mental health disease.
They can also provide care for the baby/family or help with the house chores to give time off to parents to rest and go to therapy.
Anything else that families should know?
Yes – Depression is a mental disease and should not be addressed lightly. In fact, it is a leading cause of death among new moms according to data from the U.S., Japan, the UK and Ireland.
Unfortunately you will not overcome depression with yoga or hypnotherapy (although alternative and holistic medicine/care are a great ad-on to therapy). You should prioritize psychiatry and medical treatment.
This being said, you are not alone, you are not to blame, you are the perfect parent for your baby and, with help, you will get better !
Are you curious about how doulas support families during pregnancy and the postpartum period? And how does this differ from the work of midwives? Read on to find out.
Did you know that you could get at-home support (called "Haushaltshilfe") after your baby is born and that this can be paid for by your health insurance? Postpartum doula Julie Meresse will tell us everything we need to know about this topic, tailored specifically to families living in Berlin.